The Bugs Coleopteran Ecology Package (BugsCEP) database: 1000 sites and half a million fossils later
The Bugs database project started in the late 1980s as what would now be considered a relatively simple system, albeit advanced for its time, linking fossil beetle species lists to modern habitat and distribution information. Since then, Bugs has grown into a complex database of fossils records, habitat and distribution data, dating and climate reference data wrapped into an advanced software analysis package. At the time of writing, the database contains raw data and metadata for 1124 sites, and Russell Coope directly contributed to the analysis of over 154 (14%) of them, some 98790 identifications published in 231 publications. Such quantifications are infeasible without databases, and the analytical power of combining a database of modern and fossil insects with analysis tools is potentially immense for numerous areas of science ranging from conservation to Quaternary geology. BugsCEP, The Bugs Coleopteran Ecology Package, is the latest incarnation of the Bugs database project. Released in 2007, the database is continually added too and is available for free download from http://www.bugscep.com. The software tools include quantitative habitat reconstruction and visualisation, correlation matrices, MCR climate reconstruction, searching by habitat and retrieving, among other things, a list of taxa known from the selected habitat types. It also provides a system for entering, storing and managing palaeoentomological data as well as a number of expert system like reporting facilities. Work is underway to create an online version of BugsCEP, implemented through the Strategic Environmental Archaeology Database (SEAD) project (http://www.sead.se). The aim is to provide more direct access to the latest data, a community orientated updating system, and integration with other proxy data. Eventually, the tools available in the offline BugsCEP will be duplicated and Bugs will be entirely in the web. This paper summarises aspects of the current scope, capabilities and applications of the BugsCEP database and software, with special reference to and quantifications of the contributions of Russell Coope to the field of palaeoentomology as represented in the database. The paper also serves to illustrate the potential for the use of BugsCEP in biographical studies, and discusses some of the issues relating to the use of large scale sources of quantitative data. All datasets used in this article are available through the current version of BugsCEP available at http://www.bugscep.com.